Fiona Bigwood, from Horsham, announced her arrival on the European scene with a large boom with her stunning mare, Atterupgaards Orthilia – our secret weapon. The crowds on the continent aren’t familiar with ten year old ‘Tillie’ but they are now after a light, harmonious performance which won many new plaudits. In just her sixth international grand prix, it was hard to know just what to expect; as Fiona said; “It’s only her sixth international so isn’t that experienced but obviously the talent is there; it’s a question of how much you ask.”
Understandably, she started cautiously after a nervous trip up the tunnel but they soon grew in confidence. They showed great reach in the first trot half passes and some strong piaffe and passage for marks around eight. With the line of canter pirouettes behind them, Fiona went for the final extended trot and Tillie floated effortlessly – but spectacularly – across the diagonal. A firm plant of four feet brought the test to an end and 75.8% was the final score – a fraction off first place and a huge boost for the team.
Mum of three Fiona commented; “She was nervous outside and let out a little whinny in the tunnel on the way up to the arena but we got in there and she just said ‘I trust you mum’. I knew there was pressure on us to pull out a mark to be in with a chance of a medal. My goal was for a mistake free test and that was what I got. Once my canter pirouettes were done, I could breathe, relax and enjoy it so I let fly on the last extended trot. I thought to myself ‘come on girl, let’s go!’.
“Aachen is just magical; there’s nothing bigger in dressage so I’m on cloud nine – she was amazing to ride in there. I’ve done my job today; minimal mistakes, pretty clean and a good score for the team.”
Fiona rides with an eye patch over her left eye following a fall from a horse which left her with limited vision. It’s really raised attention and the waiting press were curious. She told the media; “I don’t see in 3D so it’s hard to get a feeling of where her neck is. Also, it’s really difficult for me to judge the angle of the right bend which makes it harder but I’m learning.”
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